Communication Student Publishes His Debut Novel
Caleb Ward ‘22, began the journey of publishing his debut novel “Downfall” as a freshman.
By Stella Lee ‘23
As a child, Caleb Ward ‘22 was always creating stories and characters in his head to keep him company. That character list quickly turned into aspirations to become an author. Now as a student at Texas A&M University, he turned his childhood dreams into reality with the power of persistence, leading to the publication of Downfall, the first novel of his original Christian fantasy series.
Ward’s younger self coined the term “imaginating” to describe the vivid worlds he had created. In high school, Ward decided to take a leap of faith, combining his love for reading with his creative mind. He began writing short stories, which nurtured his love for writing. When Ward arrived at Texas A&M, he decided to try his hand at authoring books.
“I always loved reading, but I never wanted to take the risk and start writing the stories I’d created in my head because I didn’t think I could do my characters justice,” Ward explained. “When I came to college, I decided to try and get published. So I started with one of my favorite stories I’d created in my head and over my years at Texas A&M, I wrote Downfall.”
Inspired by authors like C.S. Lewis and Ted Dekker, Ward aimed to create complex worlds that also convey powerful truths, but the journey to becoming a published author was not as easy as he thought.
Ward started his novel-writing process by brainstorming and world-building, outlining details for his characters and the universe he wanted to assemble. One early difficulty he faced was struggling to visualize his fantasy scene. As a remedy, he took to music, listening to themes that captured the emotion of the moment and allowed him to put the images on paper. Ward continued to work on writing the novel for three years as a student at Texas A&M, and eventually hired a developmental editor during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For Downfall, my writing process looked like a lot of rewrites,” Ward said. “There was a lot of trial and error and learning how to write well, it took a lot of iterations to get a good story.”
When he believed his book was ready for publication, Ward reached out to an independent publisher who said his 43,000-word text was nowhere near long enough for a Christian fantasy novel. Feeling discouraged, the young writer considered giving up on his dream until his fellow Aggies encouraged him to try again.
“The support of my fellow Aggies has been instrumental in encouraging me to step out and publish my novel,” Ward shared. “When I was rejected for publication the first time, I really wanted to give up, but Aggie friends encouraged me and held me accountable to work hard in fixing the novel and submitting another book proposal to the publisher.”
With the motivation from his peers, Ward went back to the drawing board, aiming for the 70,000- to 100,000-word guideline his publisher gave him. Over the next three months, including the Texas freeze of 2021, Ward was able to double the length of his novel while preserving the integrity of his story. He submitted his new script to the publisher, and within a week he was given a publishing contract.
Downfall by Caleb Ward is ranked number one for Christrian fantasy new releases on Amazon. Ward plans to keep up his momentum with the sequel of his debut novel and with 30 other titles he has outlined.
“To anyone wanting to give up, in whatever area it may be, there is power in persistence,” Ward said. “It’s very exciting and I’m grateful that I was able to start this process now and get some momentum going, because I love storytelling and my dream is to do it long-term.”